News

Castle Rock Season 2 First Reviews: Lizzy Caplan Kills in Iconic Role

Just in time for Halloween, a gory tale in the spirit of Stephen King that features one of the author's most beloved characters, Annie Wilkes.

by | October 22, 2019 | Comments

Castle Rock presented a cornucopia of Stephen King Easter eggs to fans when the first season premiered to Hulu in October 2018. The Shawshank Redemption, Needful Things, and Stand By Me were just a few of the author’s iconic works that were mined for the series — from co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and executive producers J.J. Abrams and King himself.

Season 1 of the series (which is Certified Fresh at 87% on the Tomatometer with 76 reviews) followed the story of Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) who returned to his childhood home of Castle Rock, Maine after a mysterious young man (Bill Skarsgård) was found living in a cage underground, beneath Shawshank Prison. This odd discovery sparked a domino effect of terrible events throughout the town, establishing the inherent evil of the fictional town while providing a fun collection of genre nods for newbies and die-hard fans alike.

The goal here was to establish the King universe for the small-screen, adhering to the author’s extensive library of work — from short stories and novellas like The Body and The Sun Dog to his more in-depth novels like The Stand and The Shining — for inspiration. New characters and narratives breathed new life into the familiar genre goodies sprinkled throughout its initial run.

With season 2, though, it seems that Castle Rock has narrowed its focus on the master of horror’s work. This time around, the scope of the series will expand outside of the town’s borders to the Somali community of Jerusalem’s Lot — the small town featured in the vampire-themed Salem’s Lot. Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, and Yusra Warsama are new to the cast this season, helping to expand this new storyline.

Most notable, though, is the character of Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) — a role which won Kathy Bates the Oscar in 1991 — leading the new season. How did the young nurse become the kidnapping psychopath, who terrorizes author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) in the Rob Reiner film adaptation Misery? These new episodes allegedly will set out to answer that question.

Here’s what critics are saying about season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock:


Castle Rock keyart season 2 (Hulu)
(Photo by Hulu)

DOES LIZZY CAPLAN’S ANNIE WILKES HOLD UP TO BATES’ OSCAR-WINNING PERFORMANCE?

Caplan is excellent as the psychologically deteriorating Annie Wilkes. She’s obviously heavily influenced by Bates, but she gives a fiercely committed performance of her own. —Liam Mathews, TV Guide

Caplan, who is in the unenviable position of following Kathy Bates’ Oscar-winning turn in the 1990 film Misery, does a remarkable job portraying Castle Rock’s reimagined Annie. —Kristen Baldwin, EW



HOW IS THE REST OF THE CAST?

Tim Robbins returns to the geographic proximity of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION but plays a man haunted by his past and trying to make amends. Barkhad Abdi gets his meatiest acting role since CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and nails it. Even Elsie Fisher shows her work in EIGHTH GRADE was no fluke as she plays the tormented daughter of Annie Wilkes. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason are intent on putting their best foot forward from the moment go. That means making use of Caplan and Fisher, but also Tim Robbins as Pop Merrill, Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire) as Ace Merrill, and Barkhad Abi (Captain Philips), as a criminal family threatening to tear itself apart over the construction of a new Somali mall in Castle Rock. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Abdi and Warsama are both standouts in a Somali storyline that starts off intriguing and timely only to sputter a bit by the season’s halfway point. —Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter


HOW DOES THIS NEW EPISODIC STORY COMPARE TO ONE IN SEASON 1?

Season 2 fares a bit better. The show is still far too obsessed with trying to ape producer J.J. Abrams’ infamous “mystery box” formula, where only tiny bits of info are doled out in frustrating fashion. But the story is stronger overall, as is the cast of characters. —Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm

The effectiveness of not just the characters but the story itself is so strong and compelling that we don’t need any other references to King and his memorable characters throughout the rest of the season, with those possible nods likely only heightening the rivetting story that we already get to witness take place. —Patrick Cavanaugh, ComicBook.com

Despite all its high drama, season two feels a little more conventional in its narrative, and that’ll likely make for a more satisfying story arc, especially with all the horror-fantasy elements to come. —Cheryl Eddy, IO9

Much like Season 1, this is a Stephen King mixtape, but the tunes are much better this time around. —Mike Fugere, CBR


Castle Rock season 2 premieres on Wednesday, October 23 on Hulu.


#1
Adjusted Score: 90.686%
Critics Consensus: Driven by an unsettlingly compelling Lizzy Caplan, Castle Rock's second chapter opens the borders of its titular town without losing any of its creeping atmosphere.
Synopsis: In season two of Castle Rock, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes,... [More]

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Trivia The Purge 2017 Writers Guild of America Creative Arts Emmys cancelled TV shows blockbuster composers Netflix Christmas movies The Arrangement romance Awards Tour Cannes CW Seed Toys Lionsgate Video Games Premiere Dates Vudu Rocky richard e. Grant Paramount Turner Classic Movies Musicals Fall TV Star Trek Comic Book Netflix dramedy TCM Interview 20th Century Fox Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Disney streaming service American Society of Cinematographers Warner Bros. casting indie LGBT golden globes Sci-Fi WarnerMedia Holidays 2016 witnail MTV E! NYCC game show toy story IFC Films Black Mirror Superheroes Disney Plus FX justice league BBC Marathons singing competition independent green book Apple TV+ Comedy Central Valentine's Day Spring TV Pop ITV cancelled television romantic comedy MCU A24 Comics on TV Pirates comic award winner Chernobyl Ghostbusters Family spinoff Extras Opinion canceled CMT discovery Sneak Peek Food Network El Rey 2015 breaking bad DGA Crunchyroll Certified Fresh TCA Brie Larson based on movie Grammys strong female leads Nat Geo crime thriller Mindy Kaling theme song TBS GoT christmas movies Rocketman cats natural history zombie social media Action Anna Paquin Podcast dragons politics Super Bowl Drama San Diego Comic-Con Polls and Games Television Academy VH1 Tomatazos ESPN cooking APB Classic Film Election PaleyFest Amazon anthology The Witch Sony Pictures E3 Kids & Family TIFF Epix Horror nature 2019 medical drama GLAAD Reality Competition television Binge Guide Countdown Mary Tyler Moore AMC OWN USA Network festivals Western TNT anime Reality Nominations renewed TV shows Universal sitcom SDCC halloween TLC Women's History Month Marvel Television Oscars teaser animated TV Land ABC BBC America Year in Review Columbia Pictures Mary Poppins Returns Ellie Kemper History SXSW Tarantino zero dark thirty TruTV Paramount Network Red Carpet cancelled Cosplay movies adaptation Mudbound spider-man Showtime cars Syfy zombies Marvel Studios aliens psychological thriller free movies Captain marvel DC Comics Hallmark Christmas movies 2018 RT21 Esquire Heroines Superheroe National Geographic Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Disney+ Disney Plus diversity foreign versus Spike Lucasfilm Awards video kids blaxploitation harry potter transformers DirecTV vampires Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime revenge MSNBC Sundance USA TV renewals VICE YouTube Red Marvel travel Rock Teen Trophy Talk Crackle CBS All Access Quiz CBS Fox News sports serial killer Best and Worst cinemax Thanksgiving Apple stand-up comedy 21st Century Fox Box Office disaster docudrama Masterpiece crime Bravo biography Shondaland ratings dceu Star Wars facebook cartoon SundanceTV Nickelodeon YouTube Premium Mary poppins DC Universe Schedule Lifetime 71st Emmy Awards Winners DC streaming service crime drama comiccon book quibi unscripted boxoffice spain Rom-Com Film Festival werewolf south america Sundance Now Logo Pet Sematary binge BET GIFs Mystery police drama Infographic Musical children's TV adventure Turner canceled TV shows elevated horror Watching Series Pixar HBO Max Elton John Emmy Nominations miniseries Disney Channel spy thriller ABC Family Martial Arts Freeform screenings Spectrum Originals political drama period drama Cartoon Network technology YA LGBTQ The Walking Dead Lifetime Christmas movies Disney Winter TV doctor who Tumblr 24 frames batman Song of Ice and Fire The CW psycho Comedy Christmas Photos New York Comic Con Walt Disney Pictures Ovation Set visit Hulu Film Trailer talk show hispanic thriller Character Guide RT History NBC cops what to watch A&E robots slashers FXX space FOX streaming war Animation 45 Pride Month true crime mutant Stephen King Summer mockumentary tv talk Emmys Dark Horse Comics game of thrones First Look Holiday finale Starz hist dc crossover Music ghosts sequel rotten movies we love Fantasy Peacock series science fiction WGN President IFC Arrowverse First Reviews cancelled TV series Biopics historical drama spanish language HBO PBS 007 supernatural Britbox YouTube Amazon Prime Video Calendar Adult Swim cults X-Men See It Skip It Shudder CNN Acorn TV Country joker TV latino TCA 2017 jamie lee curtis Hallmark